March 13, 2012 at 3:17 PM ET
Looking to backup your DVD and Blu-ray collection and convert them to virtual copies for playback at home and on your mobile devices? Walmart will let you purchase virtual copies of your existing DVDs and Blu-ray discs through its new Disc to Digital service for Vudu, its digital video rental and purchase service.
Starting April 16, you’ll be able to come into Walmart stores with your discs (purchased at Walmart or elsewhere) and pay a $2 fee per disc for a straight conversion (DVD to SD or Blu-ray to 1080p HD), or $5 for up-converting a DVD to an HD copy.
The virtual copy will then be available through Walmart’s Vudu video service on your Vudu-enabled TV, Blu-ray player, PS3 or Xbox 360. Currently, you can use a computer or iPad only to stream SD videos.
The Disc to Digital service for Vudu is powered by UltraViolet, a cloud-based movie and TV storage service. Technically, with an UltraViolet account, you can stream your content to up to three devices simultaneously. Flixster, an UltraViolet app, is already available for iOS and Android devices. And, the ability to download your titles onto up to 12 UltraViolet-capable devices is coming soon. But it's not yet clear whether the Vudu service will have options for or Android, and downloading is only supported for PCs (up to 5) and simultaneous streaming to two devices.
The selection of movies available for conversion to UltraViolet is currently limited to titles from Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and Universal Pictures. Notably absent is Disney.
The big question is whether consumers will be willing to pay for the privilege of streaming content they already own.
For content not available on Netflix or Amazon Prime, it may make sense. I also have plenty of scratched discs (especially kids’ titles) that I would like to recover and keep in a more durable format (discs don't have to be playable when brought in for conversion). And once the ability to download and play back content offline becomes available, UltraViolet may very well replace DVDs and Blu-ray discs entirely.
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